The standard was first developed by Prof Bo Adamson and Prof Wolfgang Feist due to the problems of increasing demand for fossil fuels and global warming. A solution was needed for these issues and so the passivhaus standard was born.
The simplicity of the standard is its strength; build a house that has excellent thermal properties, is completely airtight and then ventilate the house mechanically. That is more or less it. Adding further energy efficient systems such as solar panels are entirely optional. Adding rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling to further enhance the green aspects of the build will help to make it more environmentally friendly.
Using this standard, an energy efficient building can be built anywhere…including Antarctica! To gain the thermal properties required by the standard, triple glazing, super insulation and a ground heat exchanger are all important.
Regular testing and user feedback indicates that the interior of a passivhaus does not fall below 16 degrees Celsius even during the coldest winter months and despite a mechanical ventilation system the indoor air quality remained good.
This standard is not only suitable for residential homes but can be used for any building, industrial or commercial, to reduce fuel bills. In the face of climate change this is a massive step in the right direction and there are now examples of passivhaus buildings in every European country as well as the USA, Canada, China, Japan and Australia.
Passivhaus is a global solution to a global issue and is going to become ever more popular. Whilst it is relatively easy to adopt the standard for a new build it is difficult to refurbish a building to the standard without undertaking major works.
However, even when a building is refurbished using “passivhaus-suitable components” but does not meet the necessary criteria to receive certification, the building will still benefit greatly from the use of the energy efficient materials.
It is worth noting that although a passivhaus retrofit may need planning permission, the local planning department should look favourably on the project and your architect will be able to advise you on this.
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